Greetings to All!
I have just returned home from a wonderful 5-week visit to Rishikesh India. "Rishi" means sage or saint, and Rishikesh is known as the land of the sages, the birth place of yoga, and where the Ganga river first emerges from the foothills of the Himalayas to weave its way through India.
I stayed in Paramarth Niketan Ashram on the banks of the Holy River Ma Ganga, where I immersed in Kundalini Yoga teacher-training. We were up at 3:30am for the daily early morning Sadhana (4:30 - 7:00am), and usually in bed by 9:00pm, thoroughly exhausted. One morning, on the full moon, I woke up a little earlier to go dunk my whole body, three times, into the Ganga. Yes, it was freezing!!
Staying in the Ashram was beautiful. Every evening there was a Yagna and Aarti Ceremony. Yagna is a fire ritual done for purification, followed by Aarti, a celebration of Light. The chanting of mantras and singing of bhajans was exquisitely intoxicating. All were welcome and every night the area would be filled with dozens of Sadhus, locals, and foreigners from all over the world.
Shivrati, a festival celebrating Shiva and his consort Parvati, also took place while I was there. Shivrati is celebrated on the 14th night of the new moon in February. The sacred Shiva Linga (pictured below) is bathed with honey, milk, and water. The celebration lasts the full day and night - all night long I would drift in and out of sleep to the constant chanting. Amidst the horns, shouting, fire-crackers, and conglomeration of chaotic noises, this chanting was so beautifully mesmerizing.
Monkeys (and cows) were all over the place. This monkey was the larger, and generally more peaceful, variety. The smaller 'pink-butt' monkeys would get quite mischievous, stealing clothes that were laid out to dry, and snatching your food when you weren't looking.
There was a small Ghat (where the deceased bodies would be burned along the river) right near this picture below. This is the path we took when we went to Krishna Das's Kirtan concert, right near Swami Dayananda's Ashram, and also where Mooji was giving open Satsangs.
Rishikesh is such a peaceful, safe, and beautiful city. It is truly a mecca for Yoga and Spiritual exploration and deepening. There are dozens of ashrams, meditation and yoga classes, satsangs, and gurus to discover and experience.
One (of many) memorable experiences was sitting with Prem Baba at the Sachcha Dham Ashram. The energy was phenomenally uplifting - I literally felt my spine lengthen and lighten. There was Satsang and Kirtan and the Light energy transmission was like none other I had felt before.
Well, I look forward to stepping back into my life here in Victoria BC, and seeing many of you at Kundalini Yoga classes, Full & New Moon Meditations, Foundation Workshops, Intermediate Classes, or Retreats (perhaps in Rishikesh in 2016!).
And a special note for our International community: I will be holding a Kundalini Yoga Retreat on the beautiful Salt Spring Island (a ferry ride away from Vancouver BC) in October of this year - it would be lovely to have some of you far away visitors come!
With Love, Dawn
p.s. Next month's blog will resume the regular Kundalini Yoga educational pieces and suggested practices.
Dawn Rabey, PhD
Transpersonal Psychotherapist Registered Clinical Counsellor